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Just got back from Srinagar, Garhwal where I was invited to give a lecture at an INSPIRE Science camp. As you may know, the INSPIRE program is run by the Department of Science and Technology and it is terrific initiative of the government to popularize and promote science throughout the country. This particular component which I went to is called Scheme for Early Attraction of Talent, which provides an opportunity for the top students of each board to attend camps in which they get exposed to advanced areas of science through lectures given by researchers and experts from India.

Srinagar, Garhwal is a beautiful town located in the foothills of the Himalayas and on the banks of the Alaknanda river. Even though the surroundings are peaceful and serene, life is not easy for people living in this region. The terrain is extremely hilly and there are frequent landslides which affect life in a very direct way. Nonetheless, there’s a certain warmth and friendliness which the people here display which is sometimes hard to find in cities.

The lecture was meant for the top 11th and 12th grade students of Uttarakhand board, most of whom are from Hindi medium background and this is why I had to choose a topic which was sufficiently accessible to them and which still provided them a glimpse of the kind of mathematics they will see at the senior undergraduate level. I talked about the solvability of algebraic equations in one variable in general and showed why it is not possible to solve the general quintic (equation of degree five) by radicals (i.e. using elementary algebraic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and extracting a root). I discussed the work of Abel and the generalization by Galois. Considering the audience, I decided to give the lecture in Hindi. The response from students was very good. Many of them were very enthusiastic and had a few questions for me after the lecture.

I will have an expanded version of the lecture here on the blog sometime next week. Watch this space for more details.